Thursday, September 23, 2010

Audiobook Thursday: A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS

First line: "Sound of gunshots, like bones snapping."

Joseph Vaughan is a young boy growing up in rural Georgia. Joseph is smart and articulate and sets his sights on writing at a young age. There are rumblings of war in Europe as the continent heads toward World War II. But in Augusta Falls, Georgia, a different evil is brewing. Someone is murdering and mutilating young girls. Young Joseph and his small group of friends decide they are going to protect the girls of Augusta Falls and they form "The Guardians." Despite their well-intentioned efforts, the murders continue and by the time Joseph reaches adulthood, ten girls have been murdered. The mystery haunts Joseph and follows him like a black cloud raining down on his life. Joseph will never be free until he finds the monster who is responsible for all the destruction.

A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS is a stunning novel. The language is pure poetry, bringing characters and setting to life and plopping the reader right down in the middle of it all. R.J. Ellory creates a tone that mimics the slow country life of 1940s rural Georgia. Joseph Vaughan narrates his story, allowing the reader to feel every fear, every disappointment, every struggle, every joy. There is humor in the growing pains and awkwardness of a young boy. There is heartbreak from loss, rage at bias. A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS is simply not a book that can be passively experienced.

Aside from Joseph Vaughan, the rich array of characters add color and depth to the novel, each integral to the plot and to Joseph's life. Ellory breathes life into the characters through sharp dialogue, complex relationships, and through the use of a young, passionate boy's perspective.

The plot is an amazing sequence of events that for the most part, take place chronologically. But peppered in along the way are flashes to the future, foreshadowing the darkness still to come. I was certain I had outsmarted Ellory and figured out the puzzle before the conclusion. But it was Ellory who outsmarted me in the end. He even made me laugh in the midst of tragedy.

I love the characters and the plot of this novel. I love the eerie atmosphere and the slow pacing. But above all, I love the language:

"Rumor, hearsay, folklore. Whichever way it laid down to rest or came up for air, rumor had it that a white feather indicated the visitation of an angel.

Morning of Wednesday, July twelfth, 1939, I saw one; long and slender it was, unlike any kind of feather I'd seen before. It skirted the edge of the door as I opened it, almost as if it had waited patiently to enter, and the draft from the hallway carried it into my room. I picked it up, held it carefully, and then showed it to my mother. She said it was from a pillow. I thought about that for quite some time. Made sense that pillows were stuffed with angels' feathers. That's where dreams came from - the memories of angels seeping into your head while you slept."

When you combine all of these elements from the writing and partner them with Mark Bramhall narrating, you will think you are among angels. His interpretation of this work is spot on. His grizzly sound seems as though it was made specifically for this role. He doesn't miss a beat with the subtle humor, the array of dialects or the range of emotion. He doesn't try to adjust his voice to fit female roles, instead he identifies with the characters and their qualities. That creates a more life-like effect than a false, high pitch. Listening to this audiobook, I simply felt the story wrap itself around me, insulating me from the outside world. I was transported to Augusta Falls, to Joseph Vaughan's life and time. And the experience was one of the best audiobook experiences I've had. I can't recommend it highly enough.

A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS was recorded on audio by Blackstone Audio (ISBN: 978-1441722423), in hardcover from Overlook (ISBN: 978-1590202500) and in trade paper also from Overlook (ISBN: 978-1590203385).

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Kay September 23, 2010 at 6:11 AM  

I've been meaning to read this book and now my copy is packed away. Perhaps I need to pick up the audio as you make it sound amazing. Nice review, Jen!

Jenn's Bookshelves September 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

Great review, Jen! This audiobook is on my "must listen to" list!

Anonymous September 24, 2010 at 8:36 AM  

Great review, Jen. I've only just started listening to audiobooks and will make more of an effort to listen than to read. Thanks for this post.

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